Return to Castle Wolfenstein

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Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Studio United StatesUnited States Gray Matter Interactive Nerve Software id Software
United StatesUnited States
United StatesUnited States
Publisher United StatesUnited States Activision Aspyr Media (macOS) id Software
United StatesUnited States
United StatesUnited States
Microsoft Windows: November 19, 2001 November 30, 2001 macOS: April 2002 Linux: March 16, 2002 Xbox: May 6, 2003 May 15, 2003 PlayStation 2: May 27, 2003 June 6, 2003
North AmericaNorth America

North AmericaNorth America


North AmericaNorth America

North AmericaNorth America
platform Linux , macOS , Windows , PlayStation 2 , Xbox
Game engine id tech 3
genre First person shooter
Subject Science fiction , occultism
Game mode Single player , multiplayer
control Keyboard , mouse
system advantages
  • Windows 95 or newer
  • 400 MHz Pentium II
  • 128 MB RAM
  • 16 MB 3D graphics card
  • 800 MB storage space
  • DirectX 8.0a
medium CD-ROM , download
language German
Current version 1.32 single
player 1.41b multiplayer
Age rating
PEGI recommended for ages 16+
information German version censored. In Germany all versions are indexed.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein ( RtCW for short ) is a first-person shooter from 2001, which was developed by the studios Gray Matter Interactive and Nerve Software and launched by Activision . The executive producer for the development was id Software . In 2003, the extended variants Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Operation Resurrection for the PlayStation 2 and Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War for the Xbox were released . The official successor Wolfenstein appeared in August 2009 .

A film adaptation of the story was planned for a while, the script of which Roger Avary began in 2007. In November 2012, the production of the film should begin, for which Avary should also take over the direction.

On August 12, 2010, the source code of the game was released under the GNU General Public License .


year Surname
1981 Castle Wolfenstein
1983 Beyond Castle Wolfenstein
1992 Wolfenstein 3D

Return to Castle Wolfenstein is the successor to the first-person shooter Wolfenstein 3D, which was previously confiscated in Germany . The origins of this game go back to the early 80s. The original version of Castle Wolfenstein was already offered for the Apple II as one of the first commercial computer games. The aim of the game, which was still quite simple, was to escape from the castle as a prisoner (and possibly steal secret plans in the process). Two years after its publication, Beyond Castle Wolfenstein came on the market. There you had the task of penetrating the Führerbunker as an enemy lone fighter, turning off the guards or deceiving them with captured ID cards and eliminating Hitler.


In the game based on the Quake III engine, you take on the role of the American secret agent BJ Blazkowicz at the time of the Second World War , who fought against the National Socialists . The game places little value on historical authenticity, but rather incorporates fantastic elements in the manner of an adventure film , which revolve around occult rituals and secret super weapons of the National Socialists.

Similar to its direct predecessor Wolfenstein 3D , this game also enjoys cult status, especially with German players, as caricature-like, coated SS soldiers in fantasy uniforms and cyborgs decorated with swastikas in unrealistic places such as gigantic castles and fictional cities such as Kugelstadt contain a certain comedy. Kugelstadt shows many parallels to Schweinfurt , which at that time was the main location for the production of ammunition and ball bearings . However, there are also real city names, such as Paderborn , which in the game is next to a dam.

In addition, there is the voice output, which no longer contains freely invented, German-sounding words like in the predecessor, but still seems clichéd with barked commands and the exaggeratedly rolled R of the German opponents. Also present are partly half-German, partially translated sayings (e.g. "Achtung! Intruder alert, intruder alert!" Or "Wunderbar! I see you finally fixed the elevator."), Grammatically incorrect translations (e.g. "This is the pinnacle of." all my research: the the Super-soldier "Uber soldier) or intentional, visible only for the German-speaking puns in lying about writing, where names such as.. Minister Wolfgang awkwardly , Lieutenant A. Shosshund , Captain Vernor Dirty or Captain B. Caution occur which is supposed to be an allusion to the English expression be careful . Officer "Strange Love" is an allusion to the film Dr. Strange or: How I learned to love the bomb and there the German name of the ex-Nazi scientist Dr. Strangelove. There are also numerous jokes about (supposed) German eating habits (e.g. “Mhm, what a tasty Sauerbraten !”). Words also appear that apparently did not place much emphasis on spelling, such as: B. the word Schufstaffel .

The original version of the game contains a lot of National Socialist image content due to its theme. So hang z. B. in rooms with swastika flags , leader pictures and propaganda posters. In addition, there are people's receivers standing around in some sections , from which fragments of Hitler's Reichstag speeches and the Horst Wessel song , which was already heard in Wolfenstein 3D as background music, can be heard. All corresponding symbols have been removed or modified for the German version, for example the swastika flags contain the game's logo instead of the cross, but this can be reversed with a patch freely available on the Internet. The naming of real historical figures and ranks has also been adapted for the German version. Heinrich Himmler appears as the “head row leader Heinrich Höller”, and the “Führer” is referred to as “the lead wolf”.


In 943, a thousand years before the storyline, the cruel King Henry I was banished to an underground prison by a magician. In 1943 the SS found Heinrich's prison during excavations and tried to free him from it through various occult rituals in order to build a “modern dark empire” and enable Hitler to achieve the final victory.

The player slips into the guise of the US ranger BJ Blazkowicz, who is supposed to find out what the Germans are planning to do at Wolfenstein Castle. However, during the infiltration, he and his colleague are caught and captured. While his colleague dies on the table of an SS doctor, Blazkowicz manages to overpower a soldier and flee. During his escape from the castle dungeons, he learns of Himmler's occult plans, which he tries to thwart throughout the game. In addition, SS researchers in occupied Norway are using genetic experiments to develop an “oversoldier” (a cyborg ) who also becomes a powerful weapon. Blazkowicz has to stop Heinrich and destroy the oversoldiers.


The levels in the game's single player mode are divided into a total of seven missions, each corresponding to a new chapter in the story. The console versions (PS2, X-Box) have an additional level at the beginning, which tells the history of the capture (Mission 0: Prologue).

Mission 0: Prolog

Only included in the console versions (PS2, X-Box).

Mission 1: Ominous Rumors (Strange Rumors)

  • Level 1: Escape (The Escape)
  • Level 2: Castle Keep (The Castle Dungeon)
  • Level 3: Tram Ride (The Cable Car)

The player frees himself from captivity and must try to escape from Wolfenstein Castle by cable car and get to a nearby location in order to contact members of the Kreisau Circle .

Mission 2: Dark Secret

  • Level 1: Village
  • Level 2: Catacombs (The Catacombs)
  • Level 3: Crypt (The Crypt)
  • Level 4: Defiled Church (The Defiled Church)
  • Level 5: Tomb (The Defiled Church II)

In the village cemetery the player finds the entrance to a huge catacomb system in which soldiers on behalf of the Paranormal Division of the SS are in search of occult artifacts. However, you will be surprised by Saxon warriors resurrected as zombies . The player finally arrives in an ancient underground church and a grave where a first boss is waiting for him.

Mission 3: Weapons of Vengeance (weapons of retaliation)

  • Level 1: Forest Compound (The Forest Complex)
  • Level 2: Rocket Base
  • Level 3: Radar installation (radar system)
  • Level 4: Air Base Assault

In this mission, the player is given the task of infiltrating a secret missile base in order to prevent a V2 missile from being launched. The "Forest Compound" level is based on the game principle of stealth shooters : here the player must remain undetected so that no alarm is triggered, which is why you often have to hide behind trees and hills and can only use silencer weapons or the knife . At the end of the mission, Blazkowicz meets a new SS paratrooper unit and, after its destruction, is able to flee with a Kobra rocket plane ( modeled on the Bachem Ba 349 Natter ).

Mission 4: Deadly Designs

  • Level 1: Kugelstadt (Kugelstadt)
  • Level 2: The Bombed Factory
  • Level 3: The Train Yards (Das Bahnndepot)
  • Level 4: The Secret Weapon Facility (The Secret Weapons Factory)

The player must first lead a tank captured by resistance fighters safely through Kugelstadt and protect a German defector , in order to then find the way to an underground weapons factory. There he meets creatures driven by electric fields that were created by the mad scientist Wilhelm Strese, called "skulls". At the end of the mission, however, the skull escapes to Norway in a submarine.

Mission 5: Deathshead's Playground (The Skull's Playground)

  • Level 1: Ice-Station Norway (ice station Norway)
  • Level 2: X-Labs (Labor X)
  • Level 3: SuperSoldier (The SuperSoldier)

The player takes up the pursuit of skull and goes to Norway. Here, the outer security area of ​​the ice station must be broken through and the connection between the work of the skull and the processes at Wolfenstein Castle must be examined. In the laboratory, the player meets powerful cyborgs and is forced by Skull to compete against his masterpiece, the super soldier .

Mission 6: Return Engagement (The Return)

  • Level 1: Bramburg Dam (The Bramburg dam)
  • Level 2: Paderborn Village (Paderborn)
  • Level 3: Chateau Schufstaffel (Langenfeld Castle)
  • Level 4: Unhallowed Ground

In this mission, the player has to cross a heavily guarded dam and then go unnoticed through Paderborn to the castle in order to prevent a revival ceremony in which some super soldiers are to be turned into dark knights .

Mission 7: Operation Resurrection

  • Level 1: The Dig (The Excavations)
  • Level 2: Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Back to Castle Wolfenstein)
  • Level 3: Heinrich (Heinrich I)

In these sections you return to Wolfenstein Castle, where Heinrich I has since been resurrected. After battles with demons and some super soldiers, the player must destroy the final boss Heinrich.


BJ Blazkowicz

The protagonist of the game, whose role you take on, is a US ranger who breaks into Wolfenstein Castle with a colleague for the (fictional) secret service OSA. He was able to escape from captivity by the Nazis and uncovered Himmler's plan to revive Heinrich I.

Agent One

Known only under the code name Agent One, the agent was also involved in the infiltration of the castle, but, unlike his colleague BJ Blazkowicz, was unable to escape and was tortured to death by an SS doctor.

Kessler / Karl Villigut

Kessler and Villigut (German version: Karl Prall) are resistance fighters based in Wulfburg and members of the Kreisau Circle . Kessler smuggles Blazkowicz into Wulfburg, Villigut hands him a British Sten Gun . A model by name for Karl Villigut could be the ethnic esotericist and SS brigade leader Karl Maria Wiligut , who later fell out of favor.

Helga von Braun

The head of Himmler's "Paranormal Division" (in the original version Helga von Bulow ). She is killed in an old church ruin by a monster she wakes up.

Wilhelm Strese

Wilhelm Strese, called "the skull" (English version: Wilhelm Deathshead Strasser), is Oberführer of the SS. He heads the project "Übersoldat" and experiments with biomechanical technology. However, he does not believe in the occult and refuses to attend the summoning ceremony. After Blazkowicz in his Norwegian research base to over soldiers defeated and thus Streses "life's work" has destroyed, flees the skull and no longer occurs later in the game in appearance. In the successors Wolfenstein (2009) and Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014) Wilhelm Strasser appears again as an antagonist.


  • Professor Zemph (German version: Professor Schneider), who examined the old church near Wolfenstein Castle with Helga von Braun and her elite unit and was shot by her.
  • Allied commanders in charge of Agent Blazkowicz's secret operation. They only appear in the cutscenes, commenting on the hero's achievements and sending him on new missions.
  • Marianna Blavatsky, High Priestess of the Paranormal Division. The figure is named after the German-Russian occultist Helena Petrovna Blavatsky .

Further information

  • The rocket aircraft, fictitiously referred to as Cobra in the US version of the game , is actually called Bachem Ba 349 Natter , and as a short-range interceptor it was unable to perform the services assumed in the game (flight from Germany to Malta).
  • Occasionally German soldiers whistle the tune of Wolf Biermann's song Soldat, Soldat . The song came into being a good 20 years later and is an anti-war song .
  • Sometimes incorrect dates appear on the letterheads of the German news, for example from 1945.
  • The female special units use the actually British Sten-MP , which was copied in Germany as a Potsdam device .
  • Heinrich I , who is considered the first German king, as is also said in the game, died in 936.
  • In some places there are propaganda posters that originate from the NSDAP's election campaign in the early 1930s or were used by SS organizations abroad, e.g. B. in Finnish .
  • Factory gates in Kugelstadt bear the eagle of the Jungbanns of the Hitler Youth .
  • The coordinates to which the skull's submarine goes are incorrect. The point 67 ° N, 16 ° E is in Norway, but not by the sea, which makes it very unlikely to get there by ship or submarine.
  • The resistance fighter Karl Villigut featured in the game has little to do with the person of the historical SS esotericist Karl Maria Wiligut , only the name was used.
  • The source code was released by John Carmack at Quakecon 2010 under the GNU GPL . The artwork is proprietary.

Historical background

  • The name of the city of Paderborn was probably used for the game because Himmler wanted to convert the Wewelsburg near Paderborn into a castle of the SS in order to set up a Grail site there. Paderborn is also represented in the game as an occult city. It can also be assumed that the Wewelsburg was the model for Wolfenstein Castle.
  • The OSA (Office of Secret Actions) is a fictional organization, even if its name is heavily based on the OSS, the Office of Strategic Services , which was the American secret service during the Second World War and thus the forerunner organization of the CIA .

Multiplayer mode

The multiplayer mode of Return to Castle Wolfenstein offers team games on different maps in which the two teams Axis ( Axis Powers ) and Allies ( Allies ) compete against each other. The game is usually designed in such a way that a team has to try to storm a building complex within a time limit while fulfilling several stage goals, while the opposing team tries to defend the complex.

The player classes soldier (all weapons available), medic (heal and revive), engineer (defusing and deploying explosives, repairing machine guns) and lieutenant (requesting air and artillery strikes, ammunition distribution) are available.

Activities such as For example, defusing explosives, repairing machine guns or resuscitating fellow players and achieving (partial) objectives (such as breaking gates and walls, stealing documents or detonating an anti-aircraft cannon ) are rewarded with more points than that pure elimination of opponents. As usual in typical team games, players who play really team-oriented have an advantage over individual fighters.


In Germany, both the English original version and the German version, which has been freed from Nazi symbols, are indexed . At the time of publication, the indexing process was different than it is today. First, the USK rated a game. The German version of Return to Castle Wolfenstein was approved for those aged 16 and over. A subsequent indexing was possible and valid, the USK classification was meaningless. If the game had been published after the legal change, the previous USK classification would have made indexing (of the German version) by the federal inspection agency for media harmful to minors impossible.

Regardless of the indexing, § 86a StGB ("Use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations") must be observed, since in the English version of the game "symbols" in the sense of § 86a StGB Paragraph 2 (e.g. swastikas and other Nazi symbols) are included. As a result, commercial trading of that version may be prohibited. This has no influence on a game that is already privately owned, as the game is not kept commercially available.

In Germany, a German censored version, approved for ages 16 and up, was first published, but has since been indexed as the violence depicted has not been restricted or removed.

There one does not fight against the National Socialists, but against the "Wolfsclan". Heinrich Himmler was renamed Heinrich Höller and all National Socialist symbols are missing. Instead of the swastikas, the Wolfenstein eagle, which can also be seen on the packaging, is shown on flags or uniforms.

A special feature, which is particularly interesting for collectors, is that the first version of the manual is included in the limited metal box edition. In this version of the manual, the swastika can be seen in the description of the enemies that appear on the X creatures. Activision had the delivery freeze before the start of sales and ensured that this was blackened out in every manual by deploying employees with permanent markers (Edding). The blackening could easily be cleaned up with window cleaner or nail polish remover, but an unchanged edition has a higher collector's value. This faux pas can only be found in the first version of the manual.

Digital new releases

The game is since August 2007 on the digital distribution platform Steam and since October 2015 as a download available, but not for German customers. The rights holder id Software, which has been part of the ZeniMax Media group since 2009 , acts as the publisher.


Return to Castle Wolfenstein was nominated for the Game Developers Choice Awards in the Excellence in Programming category in 2002.

GameStar voted the German version of Return to Castle Wolfenstein 2001 in second place in the “Best Action Game of the Year” category.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein received positive ratings. The Metascore is 88, on GameRankings the average rating is 86%.

Versions & extension


In 2003 Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Operation Resurrection for the PS2 and Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War for the Xbox, which contain additional levels, were released. However, the ports also differ in the level design of the remaining levels from the PC version. These play before the actual start of the PC version and let the player begin in Egypt , where excavations by the Paranormal Division of the SS under the direction of Helga von Braun are to be investigated. The new editions were not published in Germany and have been indexed since 2007 (List A).

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory

Originally planned as a commercial expansion to Return to Castle Wolfenstein , the multiplayer component of Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory was offered for free download from 2003 after work on the single player component had been discontinued. Was developed Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory of Splash Damage .



Wolfenstein was released in Europe on August 21, 2009 for Windows , Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 . It was developed by Raven Software in collaboration with id Software and Endrant Studios. As with Return to Castle Wolfenstein Activision acted as publisher.

Wolfenstein: The New Order was released on May 20, 2014 for Windows, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The New Order was created by the Swedish developer Machine Games and is the first part of the series that id Software does not was involved in the development. Bethesda Softworks took over sales . The publisher took over id Software in 2009.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a stand-alone - prequel to The New Order and appeared on May 5, 2015 Download for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It was developed again from Machine Games and published by Bethesda Softworks. The Old Blood picks up some motifs from Return to Castle Wolfenstein .

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was released on October 27, 2017 for Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game is the sequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order and the tenth regular part of the Wolfenstein series.

Similar games

The first-person shooter Übersoldier (2006), developed in Russia , has adopted some elements from Return to Castle Wolfenstein . So is this game about super soldiers created with the help of occult rituals. The player himself takes on the role of a German soldier who perished in the Second World War and was resuscitated as an oversoldier . The term “Ubersoldat” first appeared in RtCW. In 2007 Übersoldier 2 was published .

Individual evidence

  1. SCI FI WIRE: Avary's Wolfenstein On Hold ( Memento from November 11, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  2. ^ Castle Wolfenstein movie goes into production, Roger Avary attached to write and direct on, accessed May 31, 2017.
  4. ( Memento from October 9, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Quake Live Out of Beta; I'm Missing QuakeCon; Oh hey Wolf: ET Source ( Memento of the original from October 3, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. ( Memento from February 8, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  8. ^ Return to Castle Wolfenstein Metascore on Metacritic, accessed May 16, 2014.
  9. ^ Return to Castle Wolfenstein on, accessed May 16, 2014.

Web links